East Providence School Committee reverses course, allows admin moves to occur

CTC principal, guidance counselors head to EPHS, some central offices to CTC

By Mike Rego
Posted 9/9/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — The School Committee during a special session held Wednesday evening, Sept. 4, at Martin Middle School voted for the moment at least to rescind a decision it made at a prior …

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East Providence School Committee reverses course, allows admin moves to occur

CTC principal, guidance counselors head to EPHS, some central offices to CTC

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The School Committee during a special session held Wednesday evening, Sept. 4, at Martin Middle School voted for the moment at least to rescind a decision it made at a prior meeting to return Career and Technical Center staff from the main East Providence High School building back to the CTC proper.

The reversal means CTC principal Karen Mellen and the two guidance counselors will remain as planned taking up housing in the EPHS administrative area as was previously proposed by the central office and approved by the committee.

Superintendent Kathryn Crowley initially requested the CTC staff move to the high school for a couple of reasons, particularly to help begin the transition as all vocational curriculum will be housed when the new EPHS is ready for use at the start of the 2021-2022 term.

It would also allow the district’s central office to move from the third floor at City Hall into the CTC building immediately, rather than wait for a planned transition when new EPHS construction is completed. Residing in the CTC would avail Superintendent Crowley to more closely oversee the process of building the new high school, which will obviously be one of her main chores over the next two years.

The committee initially supported the changes. However, some on the body later questioned the necessity of the move, citing the timing, logistics and expense. At its last meeting in late August, the committee voted 3-2 to rescind its approval, barring further communication from the superintendent.

Last week, At-Large member Joel Monteiro cautioned his peers the committee was likely in breach of state law by directing the superintendent to reverse course, saying he had been advised by legal counsel the group seemingly was overstepping its authority.

“I know the law. It’s my choice to follow the law,” Mr. Monteiro said.

He added later the move would set a negative precedent in relation to the committee’s future dealings with the superintendent as well as that of the larger community and school staff.

“Anything the elected body doesn’t agree with the precedent is set to just take a vote and overturn it,” Mr. Monteiro said.

Ward 1 member and committee chair Charlie Tsonos said the board was only attempting to temporarily prevent the move, saying it was simply looking for increased clarification from the superintendent about her decision to expedite the planned transition of she and her top staff to the CTC.

Ward 2 committeeman Tony Ferreira, who claimed to have heard opposition of the proposed change directly from CTC staff and residents, continue to express his support to prevent the move, saying he felt teachers and administrators there were being “disrespected” by the central office.

“I don’t care about state law. I care about the law of respect…Who looks out for the teachers who dedicated their lives to this community?” Mr. Ferreira said.

He continued later, “I think it’s going to work out perfectly fine. It’s just the hostility and confusion and the unhappiness and the stabbing in the back that everybody loves to do on Facebook. My goal is to see how can we avoid that going forward. On my end that’s all it’s about.”

Eventually, though, Mr. Ferreira relented, joining all four committee members present in voting to overturn its most recent decision and allow for the changes to occur.

As it currently stands, the “Superintendent’s Suite” as was referred to recently by Facilities Director Tony Feola, will take up residence in the CTC. They include the superintendent, the two assistant supers, the director of instructional technology and two administrative assistants. For the time being, the district’s director of special education, operations (transportation/registration), finance and related staff will remain in City Hall.

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